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Short-term neuromuscular, morphological, and architectural responses to eccentric quasi-isometric muscle actions

Abstract

Purpose

Eccentric quasi-isometric (EQI) contractions have been proposed as a novel training method for safely exposing the musculotendinous system to a large mechanical load/impulse, with few repetitions. However, understanding of this contraction type is rudimentary. We aimed to compare the acute effects of a single session of isotonic EQIs with isokinetic eccentric (ECC) contractions.

Methods

Fifteen well-trained men performed a session of impulse-equated EQI and ECC knee extensions, with each limb randomly allocated to one contraction type. Immediately PRE, POST, 24/48/72 h, and 7 days post-exercise, regional soreness, quadriceps swelling, architecture, and echo intensity were evaluated. Peak concentric and isometric torque, rate of torque development (RTD), and angle-specific impulse were evaluated at each time point.

Results

There were substantial differences in the number of contractions (ECC: 100.8 ± 54; EQI: 3.85 ± 1.1) and peak torque (mean: ECC: 215 ± 54 Nm; EQI: 179 ± 28.5 Nm). Both conditions elicited similar responses in 21/53 evaluated variables. EQIs resulted in greater vastus intermedius swelling (7.1–8.8%, ES = 0.20–0.29), whereas ECC resulted in greater soreness at the distal and middle vastus lateralis and distal rectus femoris (16.5–30.4%, ES = 0.32–0.54) and larger echogenicity increases at the distal rectus femoris and lateral vastus intermedius (11.9–15.1%, ES = 0.26––0.54). Furthermore, ECC led to larger reductions in concentric (8.3–19.7%, ES = 0.45–0.62) and isometric (6.3–32.3%, ES = 0.18–0.70) torque and RTD at medium-long muscle lengths.

Conclusion

A single session of EQIs resulted in less soreness and smaller reductions in peak torque and RTD versus impulse-equated ECC contractions, yet morphological shifts were largely similar. Long-term morphological, architectural, and neuromuscular adaptations to EQI training requires investigation.

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Abbreviations

DOMS:

Delayed onset muscle soreness

MT:

Muscle thickness

EI:

Echo intensity

FL:

Fascicle length

ROM:

Range of motion

MVIT:

Maximal voluntary isometric torque

EQI:

Eccentric quasi-isometric

ECC:

Eccentric

PRE:

Pre-exercise

POST:

Post-exercise

CV:

Coefficient of variation

PA:

Pennation angle

RTD:

Rate of torque development

CI:

Compatibility interval

ES:

Effect size

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Funding

Dustin J. Oranchuk was supported by the Auckland University of Technology’s Vice-Chancellors Doctoral Scholarship.

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Contributions

DJO, ARN, AGS, and JBC formulated the research question and experimental design. DJO performed the experiments. DJO and SND analyzed data and created figures. DJO performed the statistical analysis, formulated the tables, and wrote the manuscript. DJO, ARN, AGS, and JBC reviewed and revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final version.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dustin J. Oranchuk.

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Communicated by Olivier Seynnes.

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Oranchuk, D.J., Nelson, A.R., Storey, A.G. et al. Short-term neuromuscular, morphological, and architectural responses to eccentric quasi-isometric muscle actions. Eur J Appl Physiol 121, 141–158 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-020-04512-4

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-020-04512-4

Keywords

  • Acute
  • Angle-specific
  • Echo intensity
  • Force
  • Length-tension
  • Physiology
  • Rehabilitation
  • Resistance exercise
  • Torque
  • Ultrasound